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Wide Open

Posted Feb 24, 2012



INDIANAPOLIS – If you want to be a wide receiver in the 49ers offense, you better be adept at blocking, catching and every single fundamental of the position.

Greg Roman’s offense demands physical players at the line of scrimmage throughout the starting 11.

Enter Notre Dame wideout Michael Floyd, the third-ranked receiver according to NationalFootballPost.com.

In Floyd’s estimation, what sets him apart from the other talented receivers in Indianapolis this week is his “all-around” game.

It was a big reason the 6-foot-3, 224-pound wideout went back to school for his senior year.

“I just figured I wanted to be an all-around wide receiver,” Floyd said on Friday. “A lot of people say we don’t block. I wanted to put that in my arsenal.”

Floyd wasn’t the only receiver discussing his physicality on the day.

So did Georgia Tech wideout Stephen Hill, the seventh-ranked receiver according to NationalFootballPost.com.

The senior wideout, who measured in at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, sees his aggressive style of play as a plus entering the next stage of his football career.

“Corners are trying to be physical with you, too,” said Hill, one of many perceived targets for the 49ers in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Hill, the big-bodied receiver, can also stretch the field vertically. In three seasons at Tech, Hill caught 49 passes for 1,248 yards and nine touchdowns. To put his downfield production in a better light, Hill averaged 29.3 yards per catch as a senior.

“I’m a winner, I like to win,” said Hill, who likes to compare himself to Detroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson.

Hill estimated he’s met with 25 teams already.

As did Floyd, who will begin his formal meetings tonight along with the other receivers in town.

Because there are character concerns circling the Fighting Irish prospect, Floyd has circled those meetings as an opportunity to show his maturity.

“I’ve grown a lot,” said the Notre Dame receiver, who caught 100 passes for 1,147 yards and nine touchdowns last season. “All I have to do is be honest, tell them about my past and move on from there.”

Big receivers can be had by the plenty this year, but as always, smaller receivers can make a difference as well.

The top prospect in that category is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright, who’s ranked by many as the No. 2 receiver in this year’s draft class behind Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon.

Wright has plenty to offer to NFL teams in his mind.

“I have other attributes besides height,” he said.

For one, Wright possesses top-flight speed and play-making ability as evidenced by his 108-catch, 1,663-yard, 14-touchdown season in 2011.

But that doesn’t mean Wright’s going to be brash about his talents this week as he meets with potential employers.

“I don’t tell them to ‘watch the tape,’” Wright said. “I’m not cocky.”

Fellow Big-12 receiver Ryan Broyles shared a similar approach when meeting with the media.

Despite tearing his ACL and partially tearing his meniscus which resulted in him missing four games, the 5-foot-10, 188-pound wideout caught 83 passes for 1,157 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011.

Broyles finished his four-year college career with 45 touchdowns.

However, that doesn’t mean he’s approaching the next level with a sense of entitlement.

If anything, he’s hungry to prove himself all over again. Ever since he was an 8-year-old, Broyles dreamt of playing in the NFL. He didn’t want to be a first-round pick, but merely a professional football player.

“I just want a shot,” said Broyles, confident he can make one of 32 NFL rosters. “I want a chance to shine, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Unlike most of his competition in this year’s draft, Broyles will be unable to run the 40-yard dash this week. He’s aiming for his April Pro Day to showcase his talents.

Still, the rest of the receivers will look to put their best foot forward when wideout field drills begin Sunday.

And for many, the competition won’t matter. It’s about being true to themselves.

“I really don’t speak to the other guys, I’m out here trying to do my thing,” Hill said. “I feel I have a great ability to play at the next level. I know I didn’t have the stats, but I feel I have the ability.”